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Great produce that won't break the budget?

I'm new to the TC, and I'm looking for a supermarket/grocer like the one I had in Chicago (Caputo's, for those who might have spent time in the northwestern parts of the city). Specifically, I'm looking for great produce at a price that isn't prohibitively expensive.

I live in Roseville, but I'm willing to drive a bit for great produce at a great price. We buy a ton of fruits and vegetables and I'd love to not spend my entire paycheck on them, if I can. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks!

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  1. Check this place out:

    http://eisenbergfruit.com/

    I've only been in there once, it doesn't really fit my needs, but it might yours if you have a lot of turnover. The produce tends to be riper than most grocers.

    And, when the season hits, the St. Paul Farmers Market is the best place to get the best produce (with the other farmers markets close behind).

    1. Here is an old thread to check out. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793328
      Most of the discussion was during the summer, but it may provide a few ideas for you.

      1. The Produce Exchange at Midtown Global Market is worth checking out.

        1. The downtown Farmer's market in St. Paul is a great start. Many of the vendors are Hmong people who re-settled and grow their own produce. Most important: stay within the season you're in for the best deals. Stay awaaaaaaaaay from Byerly's if they're even still around.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mamachef

            mc - can you explain "Stay awaaaaaaaaay from Byerly's if they're even still around."

            What exactly do you mean? Do you not like the produce at Byerly's? Or are you referring to a specific narrow context?

            1. re: foreverhungry

              If I can guess at mamachef's meaning, Byerly's is expennnnnnnnnsive! And not that great for produce. Yes, it looks beautiful, and yes, it's all available, but the taste isn't there. For the $$$, you're much better off shopping at area co-ops. For in-season produce, if possible. (So why am I craving zucchini in FEBRUARY?!?!?!?!?!?!?)

              Depending on where you are in Roseville, I'd recommend either the Seward Co-op in SE Mpls or the Eastside Co-op on Central in Mpls. Both are nice; the Seward Co-op is bigger (and has a great meat/fish and cheese department). The Wedge (S. Mpls) has the best produce, but Mississippi Market (St. Paul) isn't half bad.

              P.S. Welcome to the Twin Cities! When you go back to visit Chicago, will you bring me some red-pepper cashews from Sukhadia's on Devon? :-)

          2. I also stock a bunch of fruit and veggies in my house. I found Eisenburg Fruit mostly appropriate for those with a good plan to salvage over-the-hill produce, although I did get some organic apples at a good price. I would look into a CSA and the St Paul Farmer's Market in the spring for the best produce at the best prices. Otherwise, I think the best quality is at the co-ops, but the prices can be pretty painful. Trader Joe's has good seasonal fruit selections. At Cub and Rainbow whatever is in season and on sale tends to be pretty decent.

            1. There is nothing like Caputo's here. Last time I was at Caputo's the guy sold me an already discounted prosciutto end for half price.

              I find Aldi to be a good value. The produce isn't as "nice" as Byerly's or Lunds but it's a whole lot cheaper. Little blemishes don't turn me off.

              1. Welcome cscholl! If you do a search, you can probably find my own posts from about 5 1/2 years ago crying my eyes out about losing Caputo's when we moved here from Chicago (The Elmwood Park location was my regular grocery store). It has taken some time, but it DOES get easier to replace the things you loved in Chicago with things you love here :)

                We shop ALOT at Costco for produce, buying our basics in bulk (carrots, asparagus, lettuce leaves, etc) then fill in around the edges with co-op, whole foods and lunds/byerlys. I have had some negative experiences with produce at Rainbow and Cub, So I stick to "hardy" items there (onions, potatoes, limes, lemons, apples). I can promise you won't find anything like Caputos, and you WILL spend more on food here. But on the plus side you will consume way less Italian Beef and sausage than you did back in Chicago, so yay for health :)

                1. Uhm, actually, if you feel the need, Frankie's has pretty good beefs and stuffed pizza.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kuan

                    kuan, at this point it's about the "total experience" for me - Gonnella rolls, sweet peppers, etc. so I just wait until I'm home visiting a few times a year rather than settle for "almost as good." I don't really crave it anymore so it's a nice treat I only get when I'm there.

                  2. If you don't need organic (although they have some), I'd suggest Cub as the place to go on a routine basis. Not sure about the one in Roseville, but due to its location, the Midway store has lots of culturally diverse food and good prices. The Hmong Market on Como has good produce and prices, not to mention and "eat street" of delicious specialties. Definitely check out the St. Paul Farmer's Market this spring, but I find it quite expensive.
                    Margi

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Haricotsv2

                      I've seen this notion of the Farmer's Market being "expensive" elsewhere, and I just don't get it. Sometimes when a vendor is first to market with a niche it might be priced a bit high, but overall, especially for the quality and if one cares about supporting local at all, it's a great deal. St. Paul is much cheaper than the Mill City Farmer's Market (a yuppy utopia). Never been to the Minneapolis one.

                      1. re: semanticantics

                        I think it depends on what you're buying. Some things are expensive, because, well, they're expensive everywhere -- raspberries, for instance. But others are a great deal when you account for the quality.

                    2. Because it's never too early to start the process, I'm going to throw out the idea of joining a CSA. Here's a link to local CSA's http://www.landstewardshipproject.org...
                      So this post doesn't get yanked for being off-topic, I'll add that produce is just more expensive in MSP. I buy most of my very perishable produce at the co-ops and Whole Foods. I very selectively buy a few things at Trader Joe's, Cub & Rainbow. When farmers markets open I go there - but now that Minneapolis FM is ALL pay parking after 8 AM I may not go nearly as often (yeah it's just a couple quarters, but it chaps my ass!).

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: MplsM ary

                        When did Minneapolis FM start charging for parking?

                        1. re: kevin47

                          Meters, yes, paid. The Mpls meter cops patrol regularly. The lot across the Lyndale under 94, no. Go here for a free parking map: http://www.mplsfarmersmarket.com/lynd.... We visit the MFM weekly and have never paid to park.

                          1. re: hody_007

                            Thanks for clearing that up. Much appreciated.

                        2. re: MplsM ary

                          There are many great reasons to join a CSA but price isn't one of them. CSA's per pound are very expensive. There is a place (actually 3) that sell produce that is near dated. They have organic produce often, find them on the web, it's Mikes Discount Foods, Anoka, Columbia Heights and Fridley.

                          1. re: ibew292

                            I found when I broke it down I saved money over the 20+ weeks. YMMV.

                        3. Thanks for all the advice, everyone! Great to hear from other Caputo's fanatics. We joined a CSA in Chicago and weren't terribly impressed with the selection we received, but I'm very much willing to try it again here.

                          1. There is a good CSA in Roseville http://www.mnfoodassociation.org/members. I would second eisenbergs as well.